Kitson enjoys return to 'striker' role for Oxford United

Dave Kitson celebrates scoring a late equaliser at Fleetwood Town on Saturday  Picture: David Fleming

Dave Kitson celebrates scoring a late equaliser at Fleetwood Town on Saturday Picture: David Fleming

First published in Headlines Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Sports Reporter covering Oxford United. Follow us on twitter: @oxfordmailoufc. Call me on 01865 425458

DAVE Kitson said he surprised himself by playing in a more advanced role to grab a late equaliser for Oxford United at Fleetwood Town.

The 33-year-old headed David Hunt’s 89th-minute cross into the net to clinch a 1-1 draw.

It came at the end of a dominant second half, which was helped by a tactical switch aimed at getting more out of Kitson.

Fleetwood changed their formation in an effort to keep the former Premier League striker quiet, playing Stewart Murdoch in front of the back four.

It stifled Kitson in his usual position in between midfield and striker James Constable.

At the break, U’s boss Chris Wilder instructed him to play further forward and the results were impressive.

In addition to the goal, he had a header well saved and won a penalty, which Town goalkeeper Scott Davies saved from Danny Rose.

Earlier this season Kitson said he no longer saw himself as a striker, but the ex-Reading and Stoke hitman was pleased to roll back the years at Highbury.

He said: “The second half was obviously completely different, the manager changed the shape and pushed me right up top.

“It was like the old days, heading the ball and being kicked.

“It was quite enjoyable actually and to pinch an equaliser in the last couple of minutes was particularly pleasing.

“I surprised myself, I didn’t think I could do that any more.”

United had fallen behind to a spectacular free-kick which saw Steven Schumacher find the top corner from wide on the left.

Missing six senior players through injury, the visitors could have struggled.

Instead, for the fifth time this season they came from behind to avoid defeat and Kitson believes the team really thrives in adversity.

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He said: “I think it galvanises a team depending on the mentality.

“It certainly does with us, because you can either pity yourself or you can go about with a sense of injustice and try to do something about it.

“It seems to be what we do, it energises and galvanises our players.

“We were good for the draw, we don’t want to get beaten by one of our rivals at the top, but it’s tinged with a little feeling that we could have won that.”

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